Shortening Treatment for Breast Cancer

December 1, 2007 12:00:00 AM PST
There's a new kind of radiation.With a rooftop apartment in the center of the windy city, Kathleen Rau is usually flying high. But her spirits sank when she was diagnosed with breast cancer a few months ago.

"When I heard the word cancer, and she described it as noninvasive cancer, my first thought was, 'well what does that mean? Isn't it all invasive?'" said Kathleen.

Her cancer was caught early. Kathleen had a lumpectomy and is now one of the first people to have a new kind of radiation.

"It's a safer radiation which gives physicians more control over the radiation," said Adam Dikler, radiation oncologist.

After a lumpectomy, a balloon catheter is inserted. A miniature x-ray tube then goes into the balloon, electrically generating x-rays that deliver radiation. The advantages are less radiation hits the heart and lungs. The system can also be used almost anywhere instead of patients having to travel to a big medical center.

"I think it might make partial breast radiation a lot more accessible for the many patients that are eligible for it," said Adam Dikler.

With her first treatment over, Kathleen has four days to go.

"I can't imagine, you know, having to go every day for eight weeks, or six weeks, like most women have," said Kathleen.

She feels good now and says that calls for a celebration.


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